Thursday 12th October 2023
Showground, Wadebridge

Growth Hub Champions Business to Be Bold for Change

The campaign cry for this year’s International Women’s Day was Be Bold for Change, and the Growth Hub echoed that call to action by organising a round table debate with women from across the county to talk about the challenges and opportunities of running a business.

Ten women from across Cornwall came together to share their experiences of starting and running a business, and to debate ideas on how we can encourage more women to become entrepreneurs and develop into leadership roles.

Chaired by Founder and Managing Director of Sapience HR, Sue Hook, the debate covered a wide range of themes including how a lack of confidence can hinder women’s career choices.  The panel was asked what can be done to help women to have the self-belief to achieve and all agreed that the key to tackling confidence issues in women was to start early.

Lerryn Ryall, Director of Redruth based Halto, said “It is not about being better than men, it’s about confidence, or lack of confidence, in yourself.  The stories girls hear from a young age are all about falling in love and having a family.  If we want them to have more ambition, then the story needs to change.”

Emmie Kell, CEO of Cornwall Museums Partnership and Board Member of Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership added “We are all here today because someone helped us along the way but what about the girls and women who do not have that in their lives?  We all have a responsibility to give opportunities across our organisations and share our leadership roles.”

Toni Eyriey, Director of Business Cornwall Magazine commented “It’s about a mindset for success. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, if you have that drive then don’t let anyone put you off.”

The pressures and challenges of running a business was also a key topic and the panel was asked if women had to be ruthless to be successful?

Director of Bickerstaff & Co Chartered Accountants in Hayle, Jennie Opie, said “You need to put your business interests first, which can be a challenge when it comes to finding a balance in working relationships.”

Lucy Jones, Owner of Truro based Cornish Food Box Company added “My business is not the same as thing as me but it is easy to make difficult decisions seem personal, sometimes you just have to say no.”

Sue Hook agreed, commenting “Business resilience is so important, so choosing the right clients and suppliers is key.”

The BBC drama The Replacement has brought maternity leave and career breaks into the spotlight and the panel shared their own experiences and discussed the different sides to this debate.

“As an entrepreneur, you just have to deal with having a family.  If you work for yourself, you do not get maternity pay so you have to find what works for you.” said Hattie Wombwell, Managing Director of Wombwell Robertson Developments in Lostwithiel.

The times I have felt the most confident is when I have felt the most secure, both professionally and personally.  We need to help create that for parents so they feel confident in making decisions that are right for them” added Chief Executive of Cornwall Council, Kate Kennally.

The panel agreed that a balance should be found between the needs of the individual and the business, but acknowledged this can be particularly difficult to manage for small businesses.

Karen Nicholas, Managing Director of Raptor 3D Design in Penzance commented “Women feel pressure to be superheroes both at work and at home. Starting your own business can offer the opportunity to take back control.”

The debate was followed by many on social media and one Twitter follower asked the panel what difference they thought events like this made.  They all agreed that hearing different experiences and opinions was really helpful, and that it was important for voices from Cornwall to be heard as part of a wider national and international debate.

Karen added ““This was a great debate with a truly fantastic group of strong, inspirational, intelligent and considered women. I certainly got some great insights and different perspectives on various subjects affecting business women today and I felt privileged to be in their company.”

If you are looking to start your own business, or would like some help to grow and existing company, get in touch with the Growth Hub for a free business review and find the right support for you.  Call today on 01209 708660.

The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub is part funded by £2,435,909 from the European Regional Development Fund and is match funded by Cornwall Council, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.  The Growth Hub is delivered by Cornwall Development Company.